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'Tis the season for ticks
Keep them in mind when you are in the wild, and learn how to properly remove them from your skin
Nudists in the wild have reason to be concerned about ticks. I picked up three ticks on my last hike, the first time in several years. This resulted from my crashing thru brush and deep grass after a moist winter. I also took no precautions to repel them. In most places I hike, the trail is wider, the brush is not dense, and it is too dry for them. It is a risk for anyone takes who hikes in brushy, moist or riparian areas. My dogs get ticks all the time on creek hikes.
Ticks like to crawl up to the tops of grass and bushes and wait for victims to brush up against them. (Oddly, this is known as “questing.”) Then they jump onto whatever made contact. They also live near water. You can eliminate your chances of meeting one by avoiding grassy and brushy areas or only hiking in very dry locations. That’s easy in the desert, but not so much in thickly vegetated environs.
You should probably also avoid lying naked on the ground without a towel, no matter how appealing the soft grass or fallen leaves look, unless you want to make their acquaintance.
Ticks in thick hair are difficult to spot, giving a potential reason to go smooth. But the only ticks I’ve ever found in my hair were on my head. I am not planning on going bald. Every other tick I have ever found on my body was at thigh level or lower.
I know some people freak out about ticks. And bugs and spiders and bees and snakes. These things don’t bother me. All are part of the natural world that one must respect. You don’t get to pick and choose between nice and “icky” creatures.
In some areas of the U.S., it is almost a non-issue. In other areas, it is a significant concern.
If you are aware of your body and enjoying the sensations of nudity, you’ll probably feel a tick crawling through your vellus hair, a.k.a. the thin, fine hair that grows on most of your body. Then it is just a matter of brushing it off. You’ll see it, too, as a dark spot that doesn’t belong there. Run your hand lightly over your body, and you’ll feel it. This is all very easy for a naked person except for checking the small of the back. You need a partner for that. It can take an hour after landing on you to attach, so a tick check every hour is a good policy and gives you an excuse for a rehydration break.
A tick that has become attached needs to be removed. The tiniest tweezers you can find are best for this. (My Swiss army knife tweezers work fine.) You want to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible, at or under the head, and pull it straight out quickly. Don’t squeeze the body. Tick keys do not work on really small ticks.
Good old DEET (the most common mosquito repellent) has been shown to keep ticks away. I live by it. Permethrin also works, but it is poisonous to cats, so if you own a cat, use it with care. Citronella, lavender, lemongrass and other gentler chemistries are said to work, but I’ve seen nothing scientific to prove it.
Any individual tick bite offers very little chance of any infection. If one should attach, it takes a half-day for any chance of infection to occur, more often a full day. You have plenty of time to get it off. In California, that chance of infection is extremely low.
If you want to do a deeper dive into the wonderful world of disease-carrying ticks, here’s the CDC website for you to peruse.